MANILA, Philippines—Members of the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr. as Speaker as the 16th Congress formally opened Monday.
Out of the 267 lawmakers present, 245 voted to reinstate him as Speaker of the House over a couple of hours after session opened 10 a.m. Monday.
House members voted one by one as their names were called at the plenary hall.
Camiguin Representative Xavier Jesus Romualdo administered the Speaker’s oath.
Following his speech, Belmonte swore in the new House members of the 16th Congress.
Belmonte described his third time at being elected Speaker as a “rare honor” of which he was “deeply humbled.”
Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento nominated Belmonte, citing the “game-changing” legislation passed by the 15th Congress under the leadership of the Quezon City lawmaker.
He said that the House needed a “dynamic” and “wise” leader as there was “much to be done in the 16th Congress.
Tarlac Representative Enrique Cojuangco, Camarines Sur Representative Rolando Andaya Jr., Aambis-Owa Partylist Representative Sharon Garin, Makati Representative Abigail Binay, Palawan Representative Franz Alvarez, and Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas seconded the nomination of Sarmiento.
Andaya called Belmonte a “turn-around specialist” who performed “not with frills but with facts.”
Garin said that it was Belmonte’s ability to steer House members towards the passage of controversial measures despite having differences in advocacies.
Binay described Belmonte as a “tried and tested leader.”
Aside from moving the House members to approve contentious legislation, Fariñas also mentioned the impeachment of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, which he said was made possible under the leadership of Belmonte.
“He has the skills and the knowledge to lead us,” Fariñas said. “He never dictates, he knows the importance of listening.”
Taguig Representative Lino Cayetano meanwhile nominated San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora.
This nomination was seconded by Kabataan Partylist Representative Terry Ridon.
The Kabataan Partylist was one of five groups under the Makabayan bloc which has pledged support for the San Juan lawmaker.
Surigao del Sur Representative Philip Pichay nominated Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.
Cavite Representative Lani Mercado-Revilla, Lanao del Norte Representative Imelda Dimaporo, and Abakada Partylist Representative Jonathan dela Cruz seconded Pichay’s nomination.
Zamora ,who received a total of 18 votes, became the Minority Leader.
Romualdez lost his bid for minority leadership after getting only 16 votes.
Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco abstained.
Elected as Deputy Speakers were Batanes Representative Henedina Abad, Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao, Leyte Representative Sergio Apostol, Lanao del Sur Representative Pangalian Balindong, Nueva Vizcaya Representative Carlos Padilla, and Antipolo City Representative Roberto Puno.